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    NEW YORK — The Los Angeles Dodgers aren’t currently occupying a playoff spot [url=http://www.officialducks.com/authentic-adidas-blake-mclaughlin-jersey]Authentic Blake McLaughlin Jersey[/url] , but manager Dave Roberts spoke confidently Wednesday about playing in the postseason. New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway, on the other hand, is beginning to sound like a skipper who knows his team will be long forgotten by October.

    Two teams headed in opposite directions will square off for the first time this season Friday night when the Mets host the Dodgers in the opener of a three-game series at Citi Field.

    Right-hander Zack Wheeler (2-5, 4.82 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Mets against Dodgers left-hander Alex Wood (2-5, 4.22).

    Both teams are coming off series-deciding losses. The Mets suffered their third straight defeat Thursday when they fell to the host Colorado Rockies 6-4 in the finale of a four-game set. The visiting Dodgers were off Thursday after losing to the Chicago Cubs 4-0 in the last game of a three-game series Wednesday afternoon.

    The series loss was the first in 10 series for the Dodgers (38-35), who are 21-9 since dropping two of three to the Miami Marlins from May 15 to May 17. The hot streak vaulted them from fourth place in the National League West to second place during the surge and gained 5 1/2 games on the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks, who hold a 2 1/2 game lead heading into Friday’s action.

    In addition, Los Angeles has moved two games behind the Washington Nationals in the race for the second NL wild card.

    The Dodgers did all this despite getting little to no contributions from stars such as Justin Turner, Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill [url=http://www.officialsabres.com/authentic-adidas-rasmus-dahlin-jersey]Authentic Rasmus Dahlin Jersey[/url] , all of whom have been on the disabled list for the last five weeks, and Cody Bellinger, who has struggled most of the season. No wonder Roberts sounded so confident after Wednesday’s loss.

    “We’re going to be somewhere in October,” Roberts told reporters. “I can’t speak to the opponent, but we’re going to be somewhere.”

    It will take a miracle for the Mets (31-41) to be anywhere but a golf course when the playoffs begin. New York, which has lost 40 of 60 since an 11-1 start, is 11 1/2 games out of first place in the NL East and 8 1/2 games back in the wild-card race.

    The Mets’ slide has been marked by extreme highs and lows on both sides of the ball. They have scored 42 runs in the last six games, a span in which the pitching staff posted a 5.14 ERA.

    New York scored just 42 runs in 17 games from May 28 through June 15, during which its pitchers posted a 4.13 ERA.

    “There’s no magic pill or magic wand to make everything sync up at the same time [url=http://www.officialhurricanes.com/authentic-adidas-andrei-svechnikov-jersey]Andrei Svechnikov Jersey[/url] ,” Callaway told reporters Thursday afternoon. “I think that’s been the tale of our season so far. Even when we’re not winning games, we have a part of us that’s going good. We just have trouble getting (everything) to sync up at the same time so we can get on a good run again.”

    Wheeler didn’t factor into the decision in his most recent start on Sunday, when he gave up two runs in six innings as the Mets beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-3. Wood won the last time he took the mound last Saturday when he allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings in the Dodgers’ 3-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants.

    Wheeler lost his lone career start against the Dodgers on June 19, 2017, when he surrendered seven runs in two innings as the Mets fell 10-6. Wood is 0-3 with a 3.94 ERA in eight career starts against the Mets.

    Like most of the Patriots players, Trey Flowers generally stays under the radar.

    Flowers has made his loudest impact on the field and emerged as a key part of the defense during the runs to the Super Bowl in the past two seasons.

    Flowers has become one of the leaders on a defense that has finally found some stability after struggling to stop teams early in the season. He has helped fill the void created by Dont’a Hightower’s season-ending shoulder injury.

    Flowers missed all but one game during his rookie season in 2015 before being placed on injured reserve because of knee and shoulder issues.

    He returned in 2016 and appeared in all 16 regular-season games, leading the team with seven sacks. His production continued in the playoffs, where he added 2+ sacks.

    The 24-year-old has been equally impressive this season.

    Flowers again led the team with 6+ sacks, despite missing back-to-back games in December with a rib injury. But he had 12 tackles and a half-sack over his final three games. It was his best three-game stretch of the regular season.

    He’s added another sack and eight tackles since the start of the postseason.

    Flowers credits the defense’s weekly preparation for creating the opportunities he’s had.

    ”I think a lot of guys can make plays at any given time [url=http://www.officialblackhawksproshop.com/authentic-adidas-adam-boqvist-jersey]Authentic Adam Boqvist Jersey[/url] ,” Flowers said. ”You’ve got a lot of playmakers in this locker room so it’s just one of those things where you’ve got to deal with all of us. Once everybody prepares well and gets ready for the game and things like that, any given down somebody can make a play.”

    He said getting back to the Super Bowl is proof of how far the defense has progressed since it ranked at the bottom of the NFL in total defense for nine consecutive weeks during the regular season.

    ”It’s big. Just the fashion of how we got to (the Super Bowl),” Flowers said. ”It took complete, four-quarter games. It took everybody. It’s pretty big.”

    Defensive captain Devin McCourty said the time Flowers has put in over the past two seasons is recognizable to his teammates.

    ”If you guys talk to Trey you can see he doesn’t talk a lot. He’s not a man of many words,” McCourty said. ”I think that the thing I see from him is now when he feels like it’s time to say something and he wants to say something, it usually makes a big impact on the team because guys know his work ethic.

    ”They know how much he cares about playing well individually and the success of the team. When he speaks, guys tend to listen.”

    Coach Bill Belichick said Flowers is displaying the same conditioning and ability to finish games now they saw when they first scouted him at Arkansas.

    ”He plays hard, pursues the ball well, played a lot of plays at Arkansas (and) wasn’t substituted for a lot. He was in there and played a lot of important plays [url=http://www.officialavalanche.com/authentic-adidas-martin-kaut-jersey]Authentic Martin Kaut Jersey[/url] , kind of as you would expect him to be given the caliber of his play,” Belichick said. ”He can do a lot of different things for us and has done that. And it’s been very valuable.”

    While Flowers thinks the defense has played some of its best football this postseason, he isn’t taking anything for granted.

    ”We understand we’ve got one more,” he said. ”It doesn’t come easy…The next team is gonna be the best we’ve played all year. It’s a tough task.”

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